This article is part of the The Great American Reach Around series.

Charlotte, North Carolina

Don't let anyone in North Carolina catch you saying that it's a part of the Deep South. First off, under most definitions it's really not part of the Deep South, and second, they don't want to be grouped in there with South Carolina or, God forbid, Mississippi. They like to think of themselves as the modern South. Sort of like Kentucky only less boring.

That's not to say that North Carolina doesn't have its share of proud Dixie-lovers. It was one of the states to join the dark side during the Civil War and I'm sure thousands of people in North Carolina are still under the mistaken impression that it was a good idea.

Charlotte is the largest city in North Carolina and it has a booming economy based around banking, the cable industry, and NASCAR. You can sense the energy of the city just by glancing at its skyline. This isn't one of the moldering relics of the Confederacy. Charlotte is vying to become a global city and an economic powerhouse in the United States. Charlotte is also ethnically and religiously diverse.

Fans of amusement parks can make a day trip to Celebration Station in Greensboro, North Carolina. I only mention it because it is currently ranked number one on my own personal list of most lame and depressing amusement parks in North America. Globally it comes in just behind Six Flags Great Afghanistan and just ahead of Play Land Dachau.

Charleston, South Carolina

South Carolina was one of the 13 Original Colonies and was the first state to secede from the Union prior to the American Civil War. South Carolina is also the birthplace of many of America's legendary figures including Young Jeezy, Vanna White, Orlando Jones, WWE wrestler Shelton Benjamin, and Andrew Jackson.

I have never been to South Carolina, but I am told, by a South Carolinian, that it is much like North Carolina only better in every way. A North Carolinian has assured me that the reverse is true of her state. Not knowing who to believe, I must assume that the Carolinas are forever chasing each other's tails like some drawling Ouroboros.

Charleston is the second largest city in South Carolina and it sits on the Atlantic coast. It is a city of many historic buildings (a theme you may have noticed is repeated all up and down the East Coast) and is particularly known for its churches. Charleston was physically devastated by fighting during the American Civil War and has since been repeatedly devastated by hurricanes.

Don't think just because Charleston is in the South it's some sort of Podunk hellhole. It is a very cosmopolitan city and exhibits a cultural blend of French, English, and African similar to New Orleans or Savannah. If you're a fan of running across bridges, and aren't we all, then might I suggest that you participate in the Cooper River Bridge Run in Charleston. You get to run ten kilometers across some of the impressive bridges spanning the Cooper River and it's only 100% humidity and 95 degrees!

Try doing that after you have some South Carolina barbecue. It's probably not what you're expecting from barbecue, but you're going to puke it all out when you run so what do you care?

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